In October, the IC² Institute convened a diverse group of professionals for a workshop focused on the intersection of data and mental health. Many attendees were leaders in medicine, behavioral health and health policy; others were experts in data analysis and AI.
Attendees Share Challenges
Attendees opened up about data challenges they face in their daily work, identified which populations were most at risk in their communities and discussed which social determinants of health were most relevant to the people they serve. Attendees acknowledged that one of the greatest challenges in mental health care is that a vast and often overwhelming amount of data already exists — but it’s rarely organized or delivered in a way that be used effectively.
Together with the IC² team, attendees brainstormed ways in which data might enhance their work. How might the strategic use of data help prevent unwanted health outcomes — like chronic pain, suicide and continued substance abuse? Are there ways to structure and organize data to identify predictive signals of recurring mental health events, before they occur? And how might AI be developed and deployed to facilitate this work?
Future Research Opportunities
While the broadest goal of the mental health workshop was to stimulate conversation around the subject of data and behavioral health, a more targeted goal was for IC² to tease out several core problems from which to build a future call for research proposals.
With its expanding network of health care collaborators and data experts, and access to a wide range of academic disciplines at UT Austin, IC² has the ability to coalesce experts around developing and deploying data to solve a problem in the practice of health care.
In 2024, The IC² Institute will be releasing a call for proposals from interdisciplinary UT faculty teams interested in working at the intersection of data and mental health. This fall, IC² hopes to identify several core problems to serve as a framework for that research.
A Larger Vision for the Institute
In his remarks to the workshop attendees, IC² Executive Director Craig Watkins shared some context for the Institute’s interest in this realm of structuring data to better support the delivery of mental health care:
“You know, much better than we, that the demand for the kinds of services that you offer is frequently exceeding the capacity of the healthcare workforce. And so, the ability to gain richer insight and much more efficient ways to deliver health services in a more impactful way — that’s something that we’re very interested in.”
The workshop and subsequent research are part of a larger vision of the institute tied to advancing the well-being economy. The institute considers well-being a crucial lens through which to view economic development. Going further, the institute views well-being as a powerful economic engine, with the potential to drive an economy that generates new types of businesses, new jobs, and novel technologies — all leading to healthier communities and broader economic benefits for everyone.
We are grateful to the workshop participants who represented the following organizations:
- Vivent Health
- Texas Health and Human Services
- MHMR of Tarrant County
- Spindletop LMHA
- University of Texas at Austin Computer Science
- University of Texas School of Social Work
- Episcopal Health Foundation